Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August 26th, 2008

Economies all over the world are presently in the grip of inflationary (even hyperinflationary) environments. This is a direct result of commodity prices that have spiraled beyond conventional notions of supply and demand. Although some will insist that there are fundamental reasons for the rise in Oil, Gold, and other commodity prices, my sense is that it is primarily driven by speculation. For reference, I have written some bits to this note elsewhere.

Arguably commodities are in a “bubble”, the concept of which is not a new term, but it is a controversial one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_bubble

An economic bubble (sometimes referred to as a speculative bubble, a market bubble, a price bubble, a financial bubble, or a speculative mania) is “trade in high volumes at prices that are considerably at variance from intrinsic values”. [1][2]

While some economists deny that bubbles occur,[3] the cause of bubbles remains a challenge to those who are convinced that asset prices often deviate strongly from intrinsic values. While many explanations have been suggested, it has been recently shown that bubbles appear even without uncertainty,[4] speculation,[5] or bounded rationality.[6] Most recently, it has been suggested that bubbles might ultimately be caused by processes of price coordination[7] or emerging social norms.[6]

This present bubble is the result of another one–which is the US Housing Bubble and the bubble in Subprime lending, which burst in 2007, but which surprisingly set off a chain reaction in other financial markets–confounding economists and analysts who reasoned that the crisis in housing and lending were specific problems, and could not possibly affect other markets, let alone affect economies outside of the US.

This apparently is not the case, and I think it is because of one overarching reason: the investors in subprime loans which are collateralized by US housing, are pretty much the same investors in everything else, including commodities which they use as hedges as mentioned above. These large hedge funds and banks, to stem losses from bad loans, turn to buying commodities, which drive them higher–and now leads to inflation.

I came across a roundtable discussion about this featuring some top economic minds and fund managers. Some interesting excerpts:

FORD: One regulatory mechanism is for participants in the system to suffer pain when things go wrong. Have the miscreants suffered enough to act as a deterrent to further misbehaviour?

KALETSKY: Well, the shareholders of Citibank and Bear Stearns have been punished, but they were not the ones who were taking the decisions. The people who made decisions were the directors.

SOROS: Why not shoot them?

KALETSKY: Well I was going to suggest something almost as radical. The idea that for the chairman of Citigroup to be fired with a payoff of a $100m constitutes some kind of punishment is ludicrous. And it is similarly ludicrous to argue that it is a punishment for a trader at Citigroup to be sacked having accumulated $10m, $20m or $30m in bonuses over the last few years.

Check out the discussion here. The causes and effects of this, seemingly endemic and cyclical phenomena in human activity is an interesting critique of human behaviour.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/south/09/04/mother.theresa.exorcism/

The exorcism took place in a hospital where she had gone for cardiac problems, said Archbishop of Calcutta Henry D’Souza. The archbishop himself had been hospitalized at the same facility and shared the same doctor as Mother Teresa.

He said he noticed that while Mother Teresa was calm during the day, at night she appeared “extremely agitated.” D’Souza said Mother Teresa would pull off wires and other monitoring equipment stuck to her body.

He said that is when he believed Mother Teresa “might be under the attack of the evil one.” He offered to arrange for an exorcism for the elderly nun. She agreed.

“So I said let’s do the prayer of exorcism over her. So I called one of the priests who was a holy man in Calcutta,” D’Souza said. “I told him, ‘Please say the prayer of exorcism over Mother Teresa.’ And he got a shock and said, ‘Shall I pray and should I drive out the devil if it’s there?'”

“I said, ‘Yes, you do.’ But he says, ‘What will the devil do to me?’ I said to him, ‘You command the devil to go if he’s there. In the name of the church, as archbishop, I command you to go and do it.'”

After the exorcism was over, the archbishop said Mother Teresa “slept like a baby.”

Let’s get straight to the point. If you heard of this story and you did not know that the person was Mother Teresa, would you consider the victim as being tested by God, or as being punished by God.

Let’s be frank about it. Some conservative religious groups will cherry pick. If the victim practices witchcraft, it is her fault for inviting the devil, but if it is a religious woman from the same religion, they will say that her faith is being tested. How is that conclusion derived at? These people who are so loyal to their religion may be impressing their peers in the same religion for their views and steadfast loyalty, but doing themselves a disservice by letting their rational mind go to waste. You say, God shall reward them from their loyalty? You wish. Please, if you don’t use your brain, you will lose it. The brain is like a muscle of the body. It actually gets better with use.

Read Full Post »

Is this guy really serious?

Kidding aside, one of the more serious proofs of God’s existence is that there is so much complexity in the world that it is impossible for the complexity and harmony to exist without an intelligent creator. Science states that as time progresses, entropy increases. And as entropy and disorder increases, how can life, which is an epitome of order, exist.

Atheists sometimes counter this with the “god of the gaps” idea.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps

The God of the gaps refers to a view of God deriving from a theistic position in which anything that can be explained by human knowledge is not in the domain of God, so the role of God is therefore confined to the ‘gaps’ in scientific explanations of nature. The concept involves an interaction of religious explanations of nature with those derived from science (see also Relationship between religion and science). Within the traditional theistic view of God as existing in a realm “beyond nature,” as science progresses to explain more and more, the perceived scope of the role of God tends to shrink as a result.

“God of the gaps” is often used to describe the retreat of religious explanations of physical phenomena in the face of increasingly comprehensive scientific explanations. An example of the line of reasoning starts with the position that early religious descriptions of objects and events (such as the Sun, Moon, and stars; thunder and lightning) placed these in the realm of things created or controlled by a god or gods. As science found explanations for observations in the realms of astronomy, meteorology, geology, cosmology and biology, the ‘need’ for a god to explain phenomena was progressively reduced, occupying smaller and smaller ‘gaps’ in knowledge. This line of reasoning commonly holds that since the domain of natural phenomena previously explained by God is shrinking, theistic or divine explanations for any natural phenomenon become less plausible. One modern example of God in the gaps is the theory of the origin of life.

The problem with this argument is that, as time progresses, the amount which is answered by science gets more and more, and the gap that God is supposed to create gets less and less. For example, during the prehistoric times, storms and other catastrophes like earthquakes were considered from God. God was supposed to give them to us to show us of his displeasure. Nowadays, science has explanation for these earthquakes. As the science explains more and more, the big question is, shall science eventually be able to answer all? or will science approach more but never all? If science gets to answer everything, then the idea of God is out of the picture. Isn’t God supposed to be above all and unanswerable by science, since God was the being which made material things and science itself?

But the gap is decreasing and science is beginning to answer and discover things which were previously impossible before. The funny thing is that science is now beginning to step in the realm of knowledge which was previously dared to be stepped on only by religion. A lot of religions have previously asserted that within God, no time exists. If you look at it, science has been able to theorize some cases where time indeed does not exist. Within a black hole time is non-existent and before the big bang, there is no concept of time. With the advent of the ideas of Albert Einstein, the concept of time has been stretched further. Time can now speed up or slow down. Mass of an object now may increase in special circumstances. Energy is now convertible to mass and vice versa.

So back to the issue, as of now, the major problems to answer are:

  1. How can an increasingly disordered universe actually create life. Will there be proof in the future that in certain cases entropy does decrease?
  2. How can something come out of nothing.

Probably only time can tell.

Read Full Post »

Everybody has heard about Bruce Lee. He was the first Chinese who made Chinese martial arts really famous. What people didn’t know is aside from his cinematic prowess he was a damn good martial artist who utilized so much critical thinking, not only in his self-made martial art Jeet Kune Do but even in his efforts to reshape and strengthen his physical body.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Lee

Bruce Lee (traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: ; pinyin: Lǐ Xiǎolóng; Cantonese Yale: Léih Síulùhng; November 27, 1940July 20, 1973) was an American-born martial artist, philosopher, instructor, martial arts actor and the founder of the Jeet Kune Do combat form. He was widely regarded as the most influential martial artist of the twentieth century and a cultural icon.[1] He was also the father of actor Brandon Lee and of actress Shannon Lee.

Lee was born in San Francisco, California and raised in Hong Kong. His Hong Kong and Hollywood-produced films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim, and sparked the first major surge of interest in Chinese martial arts in the West. The direction and tone of his films changed and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in Hong Kong and the rest of the world as well. Lee became an iconic figure particularly to the Chinese, as he portrayed Chinese national pride and Chinese nationalism in his movies.[2] He primarily practiced Chinese martial arts (Kung Fu).

His first major film was “Big Boss”. This film was made on a shoestring budget, but made it big.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Guoyzcm75jc

This was the first major feature film in which Bruce was the star. It was shot on location in Thailand on a budget that was mediocre even back then, it cost £100,000. This was so small that many aspects of the production were done using the cheapest means neccessary. Sets were often created the day before they were to be used in filming, locals were used as extras (often without their knowledge) and Bruce was forced to take over as the fight co-ordinator and direct the action scenes himself, whilst at the same time writing the script and attemting to overcome numerous afflictions he had picked up from filming in the less than hospitable conditions.

See how much the film grossed (quoted from the same webpage)

When the film ended, Bruce was mobbed as he tried to leave the theater. The next days papers were equally ecstatic.
Within three weeks of it’s release, The Big Boss smashed the local box-office record, earning over $3 million Hong Kong dollars. The film had 875 preformances in Hong Kong before going on to break records throughout the whole Mandarin circuit.

Check out this part of the film where he battles multiple opponents. The film was released 1971. From the looks of it, you will notice that the film shows lots of promise. My friend told me that you walk differently after you watch a Bruce Lee film. Seeing him beat up people and promoting justice makes you feel proud even if you aren’t a Chinese.


In the next film “Way of the Dragon”, he battles no less than Chuck Norris. Personally, this is the best filmclip I have seen Chuck Norris fight in.

If you are an astute martial artist, you will already notice critical thinking in this clip. Bruce Lee starts fighting in a typical asian martial artist way. His fights aren’t fluid and his stance is such that he solidly stands on the ground. As he is beaten up by Chuck Norris, he changes style and starts to bounce on his feet the way boxers do. During that time, mixing martial arts styles was unthinkable. Later in the blog i will show how Bruce Lee mixed several martial arts styles.

Next, is actually his last film. He fights Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Yep, you read right, the basketball player. This would be his last film. He actually died during production at the age of 32.

While definitely being a cinematographic success, several people questioned his martial arts abilities. Actually, his martial arts abilities at least equaled or even bettered his cinematographic success. Bruce Lee was a Philosophy graduate in the United States. His stint there as well as his interest in martial arts probably pushed his interest in producing one of the best martial arts there is today, a martial art he later called “Jeet Kune Do”.

For starters, Bruce Lee questioned everything. He actually even questioned what he called “classical karate”, and even wrote about it.

http://www.teamkaratecenters.com/articles/liberation.htm

One cannot express himself fully when imprisoned by a confining style. Combat “as is” is total, and it includes all the “is” as well as “is not,” without favorite lines or angles. Lacking boundaries, combat is always fresh, alive and constantly changing. Your particular style, your personal inclinations and your physical makeup are all ‘parts’ of combat, but they do not constitute the ‘whole’ of combat. Should your responses become dependent upon any single part, you will react in terms of what “should be” rather than to the reality of the ever changing “what is.” Remember that while the whole is evidenced in all its parts, an isolated part, efficient or not, does not constitute the whole.

Prolonged repetitious drillings will certainly yield mechanical precision and security of that kind comes from any routine. However, it is exactly this kind of “selective” security or “crutch” which limits or blocks the total growth of a martial artist. In fact, quite a few practitioners develop such a liking for and dependence on their “crutch” that they can no longer walk without it. Thus, anyone special technique, however cleverly designed is actually a hindrance.

Let it be understood once and for all that I have NOT invented a new style, composite, or modification. I have in no way set Jeet Kune Do within a distinct form governed by laws that distinguish it from “this” style or “that” method. On the contrary, I hope to free my comrades from bondage to styles, patterns and doctrines.

From the article we notice his lack of loyalty to any martial arts system. Bruce lee would later develop a martial arts system which would be an amalgamation of different fighting styles from all over the world. Not only eastern, but western as well. And not only for hand combat, but also with weapon systems. Wing Chin, a chinese fighting style which emphasized economy of movement would be one of the central cores of the system, but so many other fighting styles would be included. These would not be included for cinematic effect, but for the actual practicality in fighting. He would also be able to distinguish different fighting distances. He would use legs for kicking at long distance, arms for punching for intermediate distance and in close quarters, grapple. Bruce Lee, although proud of his Chinese would unbiasedly collect different styles from all over the world, including boxing and fencing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_J._Lee

Lee’s first introduction to martial arts was through his father, Lee Hoi Cheun. He learned the fundamentals of Wu style Tai Chi Chuan from his father.[22] Lee’s sifu, Wing Chun master Yip Man, was also a colleague and friend of Hong Kong’s Wu style Tai Chi Chuan teacher Wu Ta-ch’i.

Lee trained in Wing Chun Gung Fu from age 13–18 under Hong Kong Wing Chun Sifu Yip Man. Lee was introduced to Yip Man in early 1954 by William Cheung, then a live-in student of Yip Man. Like most Chinese martial arts schools at that time, Sifu Yip Man’s classes were often taught by the highest ranking students. One of the highest ranking students under Yip Man at the time was Wong Shun-Leung. Wong is thought to have had the largest influence on Bruce’s training. Yip Man trained Lee privately after some students refused to train with Lee due to his ancestry.[23]

Bruce was also trained in Western boxing and won the 1958 Boxing Championship match against 3-time champion Gary Elms by knockout in the 3rd round. Before arriving to the finals against Elms, Lee had knocked out 3 straight boxers in the first round.[24] In addition, Bruce learned western fencing techniques from his brother Peter Lee, who was a champion fencer at the time.[25] This multi-faceted exposure to different fighting arts would later play an influence in the creation of the eclectic martial art Jeet Kune Do.

Nowadays, we call such kind of martial art, “mixed martial arts”.

http://schools-wikipedia.org/wp/b/Bruce_Lee.htm

Bruce Lee’s evaluation of traditional martial arts doctrines is nowadays seen as one of the first steps into the modern style of mixed martial arts. Dana White, President of UFC, has referred to Lee as the “father of mixed martial arts”.

Specifically what additions can we see in his martial art.

http://www.jkd-la.com/principles.html

Jeet Kune Do approaches effective self -defense in a uniquely different manner that sets it apart from most other Martial Arts. Some distinctive principles are noted with a brief description.

  • Non Telegraphic Movement – Drawing the arm back before striking, stepping before kicking or showing any obvious “build up” movement tells the opponent what you’re about to do. This gives them the opportunity to counter attack you. We learn to punch and kick efficiently without telegraphing our intentions.
  • Strong Side Forward – We stress the use of our strongest and most coordinated weapons (Hand and Foot) out front, where they can do the most damage. If you are right handed, you will be in a right lead fighting stance. If you are left handed, it’s a left lead fighting stance. This in turn makes the weaker weapons stronger, giving you two strong sides to use for attack. We use the lead hand for 80% offense, 20% defense. The rear hand is mostly used as a defensive tool, 80% defense, 20% offense.
  • Longest Weapon To The Closest Target – When attacking from a distance to the nearest target, JKD uses the lead hand for punching and the lead leg for kicking. The rear tools are further away, take longer to get to the target and can be countered more easily.
  • Non Classical Movement – We do not employ the use of set or fixed training forms or patterns. They do not accurately represent realistic fight situations. We employ drills that keep the relationship between the opponents alive, fluid and mobile.
  • Use Of Broken Rhythm – Used while attacking or counter attacking, it allows you to catch your opponent while they are motion set, thus making it harder for them to defend or counter your attack. In attacking, there are a few ways to break the rhythm within a series of movements after a rhythm has already been established. For example, speed up suddenly, slow down suddenly, and/or insert a brief pause or delay in the series of movements. In counter attacking, you can hit on the half-beat to break an opponent’s rhythm and interrupt their attack. If you hit the opponent before he completes the first strike, you’ve hit on the half-beat. If you parry the first strike, and hit between the first and second strikes, you have broken the rhythm on the one and a half-beat. Control the rhythm, you can control the fight.
  • Adaptability – Fights are abstract and are constantly changing. One must be able to adapt to these changing situations. You cannot be bound by fixed techniques, a single system or method. You must be free to use whatever works and to express yourself without limitations.
  • Use Of Feints and False Attacks – Feints are actions that make an opponent think an attack is being launched against them. The object is to divert their attention from your final or intended point of attack. False attacks are intentionally made to fall short of a target and to draw a defensive reaction from the opponent. This will help you discover how they will react to your movements and is a set up for other types of attacks, such as Attack by Combination and Progressive Indirect Attack.
  • Interception – The words Jeet Kune Do translate to “Way of The Intercepting Fist.” It is least efficient to block first, then hit. It’s more efficient to simultaneously parry and hit, or even better, intercept the attack. This is best accomplished by controlling the distance so your opponent has to move towards you to get to you. The mind-set of defend and hit must be changed to “think hit.”
  • Centerline – Looping or grand movements are very telegraphic and easy to defend or intercept. Strikes going down the centerline are difficult to see and defend against. There are some major targets located along the centerline such as the eyes, nose, chin, throat, solar plexus and groin. In controlling the centerline, you also can control the balance, position and leverage of an opponent and their ability to attack you.
  • Alive Footwork – Good mobility is essential. It can put you in a position to hit, or it can take you out of position from being hit. Distance, rhythm and timing are controlled with footwork, which should always be alive, fluid and mobile.
  • Focus on Low Line Kicking – Kicking high to head in street fights can be dangerous. High kicks are slower, easier to defend, more telegraphic and you need to be very limber to execute them. Low line kicks to the groin, knee and shin are quite effective and much safer to execute. They are also faster, harder to defend, less telegraphic and your balance is not as compromised.

 

I have been reading on this martial art for years, and I shall give you my birds eye view of what I believe it to be. I can imagine that cutting and pasting from different sources may just tend to confuse you.

Jeet Kune Do is straight to the point. It will try to knock you out with the least amount of effort in the least amount of time. One reason for this is due to it’s concept of economy of movement, another is from a point of practicality. When you fight with one opponent, it is typical for your opponents other friends to join the fray. Due to this, you should learn to knock out an opponent within seconds so you can deal with the succeeding ones. JKD’s primary targets are the eyes and the groin. If one is forgiving, he goes for the nose and the knee. Some people may be strong in the stomach, but no one is strong in the nose. The purpose for going to the knee is to break the leg.

There is no loyalty when it comes to adapting other martial arts. You “cut and paste” martial arts at whim, you use whatever is useful. You may even modify movements of other martial arts as you please.

The stance is sideways to be able to swiftly change ranges from long range to short range and to make the lead leg and arm closer to the target. The sideways stance will also inhibit a direct kick to the groin.

Fights are initially started at a long distance so kicks are employed due to the length and power of the leg. Leg kicks are employed usually below the waist. These are harder to grab and defend against. High kicks are only used by Bruce Lee in the Movies. Below the waist, kicks can be directed at the shin and the knee itself by thrusting since this method is a lot faster than swinging from the side.

Upon closing the distance, hand techniques are used. When this distance is reached, the leg of the opponent is ‘immobilized’ by stepping on it or by twisting around it with your own leg. This is primarily done so that more concentration is done on the hand techniques and also so that the opponent can not sneak in a kick to the groin. You can of course go from kicking to punching back to kicking distance also. Punches and kicks are taught to be done non-telegraphically. You should punch strongly with no need to pull back before starting to punch. This makes it harder to defend. Punches and kicks are primarily done with the lead leg and arm. In addition to this it is the stronger arm and leg which is up front. So if you are right handed, your right side is facing the opponent and it is your right arm and leg which does most of the work. The left arm may be used for a finishing blow though.

If you think that a lead right hand and leg is weak, think again.

This is the infamous “one inch punch”

His jabs and kicks with his leading legs were fast enough to knock you out. Once the opponent gets even closer, there would be several grappling techniques at his disposal. But normally fights do not last long enough to last at this range. In the UFC(Ultimate Fighting Championship), a lot of fights last long on the ground. But that is because even though this martial art has minimal rules. It still has rules. to name a few:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_Fighting_Championship

The Nevada State Athletic Commission currently lists the following as fouls:[37]

  1. Butting with the head.
  2. Eye gouging of any kind.
  3. Biting.
  4. Hair pulling.
  5. Fish hooking.
  6. Groin attacks of any kind.
  7. Putting a finger into any orifice or into any cut or laceration on an opponent. (see Gouging)
  8. Small joint manipulation.

Jeet Kune Do has no rules.

http://www.geocities.com/jkdinstructor/kinomutai.html?200826

The Targets
That brings up the next item: where to bite. Yes, you can use your teeth just about anywhere on your opponent’s body, but to bite uninterrupted you must target specific areas. What constitutes a good area to bite? First, it should be extremely sensitive to pain. The cheek, neck, ear, nipple, latissimus dorsi muscle and groin are sensitive regions with many nerve endings. Second, it should be an area that will allow you to position yourself so your opponent cannot counter your bite by pulling away or pushing you away. The importance of biting a sensitive area while hanging on cannot be overstated. Using some basic jujutsu positions, we will present a few of the many possible bites.

• If you are mounted on your opponent, you can bite his face and neck.
• If you are in the cross-side position, you can bite his cheek, ear or neck.
• If you are in the north-south position, you can bite his groin.
• If you have him in your guard, you can bite his cheek, ear or neck.
• If you are in his guard, you can bite his nipple.
• If you are on the bottom of the cross-side position, you can bite the latissimus muscle if his elbow is across your body or his neck if his elbow is elsewhere.

Remember: The key is to hold your opponent so you can bite as long as you want. He will try to get the source of the pain—your teeth—away from his body as quickly as possible. That means he will try to create space between his body and yours. You can then take advantage of that space and push or kick him off. If you are pinned under someone much stronger and heavier than you, biting is the fastest way to escape. If, however, you fail to hang onto him while you bite, he will be able to pull away before your bite can inflict the damage required to get the reaction you need.

Aside from biting, you can use your fingers to eye gouge, or break the fingers. Jeet Kune do strengthens the fingers. Can you do one arm pushups? Check this out.

In order to practice all the techniques, sometimes full protective gear is worn. Here are two fighters sparring with protective gear. Not only do they have headgear but if you’ll notice they seem to have protective gear on their arms and legs as well. JKD allows for the use of elbows and knees.

Speed is also phenomenal. Bruce Lee does not fake speed in his movies, just like Jackie Chan does not have stuntmen.

Below is an example which I have viewed several times. I still can not seem to follow his hands. This shows speed, non-telegraphic punching and economy of movement.

This is actually Wing Chun, one of the core martial arts used in Jeet Kune Do. Look at the speed.

This is a Jeet Kune Do Practitioner.

Now that’s more like it, that is practical Jeet Kune Do, no fancy high kicks and beauty, fast and effective. Before you get to appreciate the fight, the opponent is down.

And what did the Philippines contribute to Jeet Kune Do? Here we have Dan Inosanto a weapons master based in the United States. He was one of the teachers of Bruce Lee in weapons fighting. At the same time he was taught JKD by Bruce Lee. Here we have them fighting in “Game of Death”. In the latter part of the clip, both are using nunchakus.

Here he is in a more serious clip teaching Philippine martial arts.

On a light note, there are several music videos of Bruce Lee all over the net.

Read Full Post »